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Alexia Sofia Papazafeiropoulou
Postdoc researcher, National Technical University of Athens

“Athens and automobility during 1950 – 1980.
The crisis as an ambivalent modernization”

The urban environment of Athens has been reconstructed during 1950 – 1980, due to the diffusion of automobility. Within the public discourse of that period, this process has been described both as crisis, as well as modernization.
The urban structure, the social relations’ geography and the consumption and cultural standards have been reconfigured through the reorganization and the intensification of the mobility flows. Additionally, these flows re-signify the social actors’ experience of urban time and space. But such changes also concern a number of problems caused by automobility, including traffic congestion, environmental degradation and noise pollution. Still, regarding the fact that the automobile is promoted as synonym with progress, these changes are depicted within the public discourse in an ambivalent way.
On the one hand, they are characterized as a threat for the urban and social structure. On the other hand, they are attempted to be solved through the reorganization of the city, so as this would be adapted to the “new mobilities’ era”. Some of the most renowned Greek architects and urban planners, such as Doxiadis, Proveleggios, Aravantinos and Zenetos proposed solutions by renegotiating not only the urban structure but the very essence and definition of the city itself.
Regarding the above, the paper aims to depict the crisis that took place in Athens in relation with automobility, during 1950 – 1980. This crisis is relevant with a series of ecological and social questions that concern many contemporary western cities, along with cultural processes which redefine Athens as a metropolis.
At the same time, this crisis determines the role of Athens as a hydrocephalic capital city of Greece.

© EPLO 2017